Zee News-Navin Jindal episode: Real face of media exposed? #Sting


 

Moneylife Digital Team | 25/10/2012 05:21 PM |   

While paid news is being discussed since the last election, for the first time we saw there is no wall between news reporting and sales, as Zee News’ editors Samir Ahluwalia and Sudhir Chaudhary are also business heads of the channel
The episode between Navin Jindal and Zee News is becoming murkier every day. Jindal, the Member of Parliament (MP) belonging to the Congress party and chairman and managing director of Jindal Steel and Power-part of the $15 billion diversified OP Jindal Group-had filed criminal extortion case against Zee News and Zee Business channel.

 

Following a formal complaint by Navin Jindal, the Broadcast Editors’ Association (BEA) suspended its treasurer Sudhir Chaudhary, who is also editor and business head of Zee News. Even the News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA) headed by former chief justice of India JS Verma has said that it would inquire in to the complaint by Jindal. While both Zee and Jindal are sticking to their own stands, the entire episode raises more questions on the ethics of news reporting and business.

Jindal, in a dramatic press conference on Thursday, also released tapes showing the conversation between his team members and Zee News reporter, who allegedly asked for cash to stop the TV channels sting operation. “Media in our country has to be above suspicion. Media has played a crucial role in our country. Jindal Steel and Power has faced an incident on which I want to give a pure version. The way Zee TV has carried the news, it has become important for me to share,” the Congress MP said.

Earlier, Jindal had filed a first information report (FIR) against Subhash Chandra, chairman of Zee group, Punit Goenka, managing director of Zee, Sameer Ahluwalia and Sudhir Chaudhary, both editors and business heads of Zee Business channel. In the FIR, Jindal said that Ahluwalia and Chaudhary demanded “certain advertisement commitments” worth several crores of rupees (Rs100 crore, according to media reports) for not broadcasting a story about the Jindal group’s alleged involvement in the coal block allocations.

 

Jindal in the FIR said, “…the said three officials (Ravi Muthreja, head for corporate communications, Sushil Kumar Maroo, director and Vivek Mittal from Jindal) met with the aforesaid Sameer (Ahluwalia) and Sudhir (Chowdhary) at Polo Lounge of Hotel Hyatt Regency, New Delhi on 17 September 2012. In this meeting Sameer and Sudhir claimed that the deal amount will be Rs100 crore and not Rs20 crore as same was a communication error. They further said that if our company agreed to pay their company a total sum of Rs100 crore, they will not telecast any program concerning us and further they will improve/repair damage already caused to our company and its management due to the said programs.”

 

The complaint also blames Zee group’s head Subhash Chandra. It says, “Aforesaid Sameer and Sudhir further informed us that a vilification campaign against our company is under instruction, consent and full knowledge of aforesaid Subhash Chandra and other officials of their top management. They further informed that Subhash Chandra Goyal was fully aware of this. In fact this whole thing was his plan and each step had his concurrence”.

 

The Zee group, however, denied the allegations made by Jindal. According to a PTI report, Punit Goenka, managing director and chief executive, Zee Entertainment Enterprises has said, “This kind of allegation has happened in the past and may happen in the future. It doesn’t make any difference to us and we will stick to the truth. These are all pressure tactics.”

 

Zee News also alleged that Jindal misbehaved with a team of its reporters after they sought clarifications from him on the allegations levelled against his company for alleged irregularities in allocation of coal bocks.

 

This case highlights the effects of the diminishing wall between news reporting and sales and marketing. Renowned media critic Ken Auletta, while writing about Sameer Jain and Vineet Jain, the Times of India brothers, in The New Yorker has highlighted the question about news and paid news. (http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2012/10/08/121008fa_fact_auletta ). Auletta says, “India is one of the few places on earth where newspapers still thrive; in fact, circulation and advertising are rising. In part, this is because many Indian newspapers, following an approach pioneered by the Jain brothers, have been dismantling the wall between the newsroom and the sales department. At the Times of India, for example, celebrities and advertisers pay the paper to have its reporters write advertorials about their brands in its supplementary sections; the newspaper enters into private-treaty agreements with some advertisers, accepting equity in the advertisers’ firms as partial payment.”

 

#Chhattisgarh villagers plan ‘coal march’ to get mining rights on natural resources – Oct- 2


 

Location of Dantewada and Bastar districts, th...

Location of Dantewada and Bastar districts, the most affected regions in Chhattisgarh (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Joseph John, TNN | Sep 28, 2012, 08.03PM IST

 

RAIPUR: Amid raging controversy over coal block allocations, Chhattisgarh is all set to witness a unique movement from October 2-Gandhi Jayanti day- when a group of villagers will start mining coal, demanding that local community be given mining rights on natural resources.

 

“Around 1000 villagers will break the coal law like Mahatma Gandhi led the movement against salt law. Local communities should have the first right on natural resources and not industrial houses”, Savita Rath of non-government organisation Jan Chetna Manch told TOI over telephone from Raigarh.

 

She said the villagers of Gare, Sarasmal and Khamharia in Tamnar block in Raigarh district would undertake a march to Gare mines to start mining of coal. The agitation is aimed at triggering a movement in the country against the plunder of natural resources on which the local communities have a natural first right, she said. Stating that more people from the nearby villagers have also pledged their support to the movement, Savita said the local communities could pay more royalty to the government than the industrial groups which had acquired coal blocks.

 

“If they are paying Rs 50 as royalty, we are ready to pay Rs 500”, she said. “The villagers have resolved not to allow the Jindal group to carryout coal mining in the area”, she said the government and the Raigarh district administration have already been informed about the proposed agitation.

 

 

 

JSPL guard part of plot to shoot RTI activist Ramsh Agarwal : Police


Ramesh Agarwal

Friday, 27 July 2012, Zee News
Staff Reporter In Raigarh

In a stunning revelation, the police claimed on Thursday that a security guard working with private steel major Jindal Steel & Power Ltd (JSPL) had hired contract killers to shoot a noted RTI activist who has a history of exposing industrial houses for flouting rules.

The police presented the three accused at a crowded Press conference in Raigarh town and said the interrogation revealed that the guard, who was working with JSPL through a security agency, had a key role in the daring attack on Ramesh Agrawal, 56, who was shot at twice in his office on July 7.

Agrawal was operated on more than once at a private hospital in Raipur and is still in the intensive care unit, though doctors have taken out both bullets from his body.

The accused security guard has been identified as Tarkeshwar Rai.

“Rai had given money to G Vyankatesh, who hired a few goons. The three of them have been arrested in Odisha last week and brought to Raigarh on transit remand. The attack plot was then revealed before the media by the police,” said Neha Pandey, Additional Superintendent of Police (city).

She added that the arrested men — Sunil Behra, Sanjay Das and Naresh Patro — were history-sheeters in the neighbouring Odisha, while one of the key accused, G Vyankatesh, was still at large.

“Sunil Behra revealed during police interrogation that he was given `10,000 to kill Agrawal. Police teams would soon be sent to track down Vyankatesh,” Pandey said.

Asked about motive behind the attack, Inspector General of Police Ashok Juneja told The Pioneer over the phone, “Very soon, the mastermind behind the attack will be in police clutches and then I will be able to give you more details about the sequence of the attack.”

JSPL has massive business interests in Raigarh district and Agrawal has a track record of lobbying against industries in the district.

In one of his most recent campaigns against the Jindal Group, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had, in April, cancelled environmental clearance granted for a 4-million tonne per annum coal mine to JSPL on the basis of documental evidence submitted by the RTI activist.

Agrawal had claimed before the tribunal that the mandatory public hearing held to clear the project did not follow accepted procedure.

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